In 2008, over 19,000 children were adopted internationally by North Americans. For both U.S. and Canada, China and Ethiopia were in the top four countries that primarily Caucasian parents adopted from.
As the number of multicultural adoptive families grows each year, parents are looking for ways for their adopted kids to create positive identities. Culture camps are one way to help fill this need. By understanding the purpose of heritage camps and the benefits of camp programs, adoptive families can see the unique experience that culture camps create.
What is an Adoption Culture Camp?
Culture camps are set up to accommodate both adoptees and adoptive families. Offering programs centred around a specific culture over several days, adoptees and adoptive families have a chance to learn about food, history, dance, art, music and language. Camps are offered for many different cultures including:
Eastern European countries including Russia
Camps usually have programs set-up for different age groups, and quite often have a teen mentoring program. Adopted siblings are welcome and there are workshops offered for adoptive parents that help address issues unique to their families.
What are the Benefits of a Heritage Camp to Adoptees?
Aside from the obvious component of learning about their birth culture, there are many benefits for adoptees attending culture camp including:
A safe environment to talk about adoption issues
Building racial cultural identity through activities and discussions
Building self-esteem by taking pride in birth heritage
Making life-long friends and connecting with positive role models
Older adoptees also benefit by sharing their experience with younger adoptees and providing support and insight into difficult adoption and race issues.
What are the Benefits of Culture Camps to Adopted Parents and Siblings?
Everyone in the adoptive family also benefits from going to culture camp. For many adoptive families, heritage camp creates the opportunity for:
A focused family vacation
Networking with others who have similar issues and interests
Discussions in a supportive environment on topics such as racism, special needs and culture-keeping
Learning ways to celebrate the adopted child’s birth heritage
Immersion into the adopted child’s birth culture
Many adoptive families look forward to going to camp each year and reconnecting with others who are on the same journey.
Culture camps provide a supportive environment for adoptees and adoptive families to create positive memories through the celebration of the adopted child’s birth heritage. For more information on celebrating birth heritage read Camps for Adoptees and Adoptive Families and Adopting a Biracial Baby.
Adoption Council of Canada Website. 2008 International Adoption Statistics (accessed February 21, 2010).
Office of Children’s Issues, United States Department of State Website. Total Adoptions to the United States (accessed February 21, 2010).